Striking members of CUPE 3903, Unit 2, will return to the polls for a second time to vote on ratifying a contract with York University. Wednesday evening, votes were cast by members of Unit 2 which represents over 1,000 course directors as well as some teaching assistants and instructors who are not full-time graduate students. However, a discrepancy between the number of ballots cast and the number of signatures of eligible voters at polling stations led to calls for a re-vote to ensure the integrity of the vote.
The re-vote will occur at a single polling location, overseen by CUPE National staff, to prevent the possibility of voters casting ballots at multiple locations.
“We need to ensure that this is done properly,” said Devin Lefebvre, spokesperson for CUPE 3903. “This is an important vote and we want to make sure that there are no questions about the validity of the results. It is about ensuring trust in the democratic process and making sure the results of the vote are accurate and reflect the will of the members of Unit 2. Democracy is integral to everything we do, so we must get this right.”
The re-vote will be held over the next two days to ensure that as many members as possible have the opportunity to cast a ballot. “We had proposed that the vote take place on Monday since Friday is the Muslim holiday of Eid, but York administration has disregarded our request for accessibility,” said Lefebvre. “We have decided to open the polls today in order to accommodate those who cannot make it to vote on Friday.”
The vote also takes place on the heels of an announcement by Premier-designate Doug Ford that he will bring back the legislature for a special session to legislate all three units of CUPE 3903 back to work.
“This goes to show what kind of Premier Doug Ford is going to be,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “He says he’s ‘for the people’ but his first act as premier will be to trample over the charter-protected rights of workers who are standing up for decent work against an employer intent on keeping them in a state of precarious work. We stand by CUPE 3903 while they do everything in their power to make sure their members’ voices are heard through a fair and democratic process.”
Voting will take place at the Unifor Local 112 office at 30 Tangiers Road from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, and 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, June 15.
Units 1, 2 and 3 of CUPE 3903, representing teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants, began strike action on March 5 in an effort to secure a fair contract that, among other things, addresses the issue of precarious employment, which is endemic in Ontario’s post-secondary education sector. Each unit of CUPE 3903 negotiates their own collective agreement and votes independently of the other units on ratifying contracts.